28 Oct 2022 18:43

Russia invites Azerbaijan, Iran to create logistical operator for western route of INSTC

MOSCOW. Oct 28 (Interfax) - Russia has invited Azerbaijan and Iran to create a logistical operator for the western route of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov said at the 15th Verona Eurasian Economic Forum on Friday.

"Today, the historically established transport infrastructure of both Russia and other countries, which was primarily formed on the basis of the principle of parallels, in other words, on the East-West horizon, is already ceasing to meet the global trends and the realities we are facing. The meridian routes, the North-South route in the first place, are starting to play a key role today," Belousov said.

The North-South route, with its access to the Persian Gulf states, India, China, and Africa, could become an actual competitor to the Suez Canal in the future, he said.

"The development of the corridor today depends to a decisive degree on Russia's interaction with the Republic of Azerbaijan and our countries' interactions with Iran. We expect that the amount of Russian cargo via all three arms of the INSTC will increase nearly twofold by 2030 from the current 17 to 30 million tonnes. But we see the main prospect, which will account for more than half of the growth, first and foremost in the western route via Azerbaijan," the deputy prime minister said.

"We would like to invite you to consider the possibility of creating a joint operator from the three countries, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran, along the entire western route to ensure end-to-end transport service and a high level of logistical services," he said, using the United Transport and Logistics Company operator created by Russian Railways in cooperation with the national railway companies of Kazakhstan and Belarus as an example.

"Russia proposes considering the possibility of launching such service taking into account that the operator would also perform shipping functions, contract for transportation, transshipment in sea ports, and provide customs and other support to transportation," Belousov said.

Russian Deputy Transport Minister Valentin Ivanov, for his part, noted, that in relation to the railway infrastructure, the ministry believes it would be feasible to create a joint logistical operator "so that all issues dealing with transit via the territories of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia could be addressed based on the principles of all services in one place and resolved promptly and at high standards without any delays for shippers' convenience," he said.

"We believe that the creation of this logistical operator needs to be reflected in our trilateral intergovernmental agreement. We're already working on it with our colleagues from Azerbaijan and have drafted a concept of the trilateral agreement with Iran, and we're coordinating it," he said.